Pending - Other Pending
Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury
CHRISTOPHER K. LUI
DOES 1 TO 10
MARLOWE ENTERPRISES OF CA LLC
WOLCOTT JOHN F. ESQ.
STANLEY JAMES G. ESQ.
12/29/2017: COMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)
5/21/2019: [Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Person
2/4/2019: Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information
8/24/2018: CROSS-DEFENDANT'S ANSWER TO CROSS-COMPLAINT
8/24/2018: DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
8/24/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT
8/16/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS
5/8/2018: AMENDMENT TO CROSSCOMPLAINT OF KEIRON DEVINE AND DESIGN MOULDING, INC.
3/12/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT
3/12/2018: ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS KEIRON DEVINE AND DESIGN MOULDING INC. TO UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT
3/12/2018: CROSS-COMPLAINT FOR EQUITABLE INDEMNITY; CONTRIBUTION; AND DECLARATORY RELIEF
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; : OSC RE Dismissal[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Hearingat 10:00 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Jury Trial - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docketat 10:00 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Final Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docket[Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Personal Injury Courts Only (Central District); Filed by Marlowe Enterprises of CA, LLC (Cross-Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Leave to Amend (john wolcott) - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketNotice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information; Filed by James G. Stanley, Esq. (Attorney)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketReceipt; Filed by Marlowe Enterprises of CA, LLC (Cross-Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCIVIL DEPOSIT[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketAMENDMENT TO CROSSCOMPLAINT OF KEIRON DEVINE AND DESIGN MOULDING, INC.[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketANSWER OF DEFENDANTS KEIRON DEVINE AND DESIGN MOULDING INC. TO UNVERIFIED COMPLAINT[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCIVIL DEPOSIT[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCROSS-COMPLAINT FOR EQUITABLE INDEMNITY; CONTRIBUTION; AND DECLARATORY RELIEF[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketAnswer; Filed by Keiron Devine (Defendant); Design Moulding (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketReceipt; Filed by Keiron Devine (Defendant); Design Moulding (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCross-Complaint; Filed by Keiron Devine (Defendant); Design Moulding (Defendant)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketCOMPLAINT-PERS. INJURY, PROP DAMAGE, WRONGFUL DEATH (2 PAGES)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by Victor Sanchez (Plaintiff)[+] Read More [-] Read Less
DocketSUMMONS[+] Read More [-] Read Less
Case Number: ****8630 Hearing Date: December 13, 2019 Dept: 4A
Motion to Bifurcate
Having considered the moving papers, opposition and reply, the Court rules as follows.
On December 29, 2017, Plaintiff Victor Sanchez (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendants Keiron Devine (“Devine”), Design Moulding (“Design Moulding”) and Does 1 to 10 for premises liability arising from injuries sustained when Plaintiff fell off his bike and struck Defendant Devine’s plate glass window.
On March 12, 2018, Defendants/Cross-Complainants Devine and Design Moulding, Inc. (filed a cross complaint against ROES 1 through 25 for (1) equitable indemnity, (2) contribution and (3) declaratory relief.
On May 8, 2018, Devine and Design Moulding amended the Cross-Complaint to name Marlowe Enterprises of CA, LLC (“Marlowe”) as a Cross-Defendant. On August 30, 2019 Plaintiff amended the complaint to name Marlowe as a Defendant.
On November 14, 2019, Marlowe filed a motion to bifurcate the issues of liability and damages at trial.
On December 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition. On December 4, 2019, Marlowe filed a reply.
Trial is set for February 14, 2020.
Defendant Marlowe requests a court order bifurcating the issues of liability and damages at trial.
In his opposition, Plaintiff requests that the Court hold trial on both the issues of liability and damages on February 14, 2020.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 1048, subdivision (b) provides: “The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to expedition and economy, may order a separate trial of any cause of action, including a cause of action asserted in a cross-complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of causes of action or issues, preserving the right of trial by jury required by the Constitution or a statute of this state or of the United States.”
Further, California Code of Civil Procedure section 598 provides that “The court may, when the convenience of witnesses, the ends of justice, or the economy and efficiency of handling the litigation would be promoted thereby, on motion of a party, after notice and hearing, make an order, no later than the close of pretrial conference in cases in which such pretrial conference is to be held, or, in other cases, no later than 30 days before the trial date, that the trial of any issue or any part thereof shall precede the trial of any other issue or any part thereof in the case…”
“Section 598 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, commonly known as the bifurcated trial rule, provides for determination of the negligence issue at a trial before evidence on the issue of damages is introduced. . . . ‘Its objective is avoidance of the waste of time and money caused by the unnecessary trial of damage questions in cases where the liability issue is resolved against the plaintiff.’” (Horton v. Jones (1972) 26 Cal.App.3d 952, 954-955.)
Defendant Marlowe requests bifurcation of the issues of liability and damages at trial. (Motion p. 2:4-6). Marlowe asserts that liability will be hotly contested, explaining that in its view Plaintiff has offered four different versions of the events leading to liability. (Id. pp. 3-4.) Marlowe argues that this case presents a proper situation for separating the liability phase from damages phase because the graphic and severe nature of plaintiff’s injuries may engender sympathy for Plaintiff and prejudice the jury against Marlowe in ruling on the highly disputed liability issues. (Id. p. 9:1-3.)
In opposition, Plaintiff asserts that trial for both issues should be held on February 14, 2020 because Plaintiff is presently in a dangerous health condition that is life threatening. (Opp. p. 2:3-4.) Plaintiff asserts that he is treating with a physician, Dr. Juan Montez and P.A. Robert Vega in connection with Plaintiff’s thyroid injuries. (Id. p. 2:7-11.) Plaintiff also asserts that, as to experts on damages, Plaintiff has only designated a psychologist and Defendant has only designated one doctor (Id. p. 2:12-15.) Plaintiff contends that the damages aspect of the trial will not be lengthy since only two doctors are designated. (Id. p. 4:4-5.) Plaintiff further asserts that Marlowe’s motion is merely a stalling measure where a prior continuance was already granted, and that Plaintiff’s statements on liability are consistent with Plaintiff’s deposition testimony. (Id. p. 2:12-26.)
The Court finds that Marlowe has not provided sufficient evidence to support the bifurcation of liability and damages at trial. Under the law, the Court may order bifurcation of liability and damages for the convenience of witnesses, or to promote the ends of justice or judicial economy and efficiency. (Code Civ. Proc., ; 598.) Marlowe’s only basis for bifurcation is its fear that evidence about the severity of Plaintiff’s injuries will prejudice its efforts to defeat a liability finding. In making its argument, Marlowe does not provide sufficient evidence to distinguish the nature of the damages here from those in many other personal injury actions. Further, the alleged severity of plaintiff’s injuries in this case and the speculative character of any prejudice that Marlowe would suffer as a result of evidence of those injuries do not outweigh the impairment of judicial economy and efficiency that would result from a bifurcation of liability and damages in this case. Such a bifurcation generally requires the plaintiff and often other witnesses will have to be called twice to testify in both phases. Further, it will require that the jury deliberate twice, a process that will elongate what would otherwise be a straightforward personal injury trial.
Marlowe cites Ballard v. Uribe (1986) 41 Cal.3d 564, 568-570 to support its position, but that case does not address the standards for bifurcation, but only mentions that the case was bifurcated by the trial court. It provides no authority one way or the other for the issue presented by Marlowe’s motion.
In support of its position, Marlowe also cites Estate of Diaz v. City of Anaheim (9th Cir. 2016) 840 F.3d 592, 603. Estate of Diaz is a federal case and, therefore, not controlling authority that holds the trial court’s have the discretion to bifurcate liability from damages where there is “graphic and prejudicial evidence about the victim has little, and in large part no, relevance to the liability issue, district courts should bifurcate.” (Estate of Diaz, supra, 840 F.3d at 603.) Here, Marlowe presents no evidence to support a conclusion that evidence about Plaintiff’s injuries would be prejudicial, nor any evidentiary support for its argument that that the nature of Plaintiff’s injuries have no relevance to potential liability. Therefore, Marlowe has not established that bifurcation would promote judicial economy or efficiency.
Accordingly, Defendant Marlowe Enterprises of CA, LLC’s Motion to Bifurcate is DENIED.
The Court orders Defendant Marlowe Enterprises of CA, LLC to give notice of this ruling.
 The parties also argue about the merits of liability in this case. (see Opp. p. 3:1-24; Reply p. 2:16-23.) However, the merits of liability in this matter are not relevant to whether the issue of damages and liability should be bifurcated.
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